Mullah Omar hails release of 5 top Taliban commanders as 'great victory'


Mullah Omar, the reclusive head of the Taliban, has purportedly released a statement hailing the transfer of the top five Taliban commanders from Guantanamo to Qatar. Omar says their freedom is a "great victory."

The five Taliban leaders were exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban since 2009.

A copy of the statement attributed to Omar has been posted on the Taliban's Urdu-language web site.

Omar thanks the government of Qatar, as well as its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, for his help in brokering the deal and for hosting the Taliban leaders. In earlier statements, both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry similarly thanked Qatar for its assistance.

Omar offers his "heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation," including "all the mujahideen and to the families and relatives of the prisoners for this great victory."

The Taliban had demanded the release of the five commanders from Guantanamo for years. In early 2012, the Taliban announced that it had established a "political office" in Doha for the expressed purpose of securing their freedom.

In addition to Omar's statement, the Taliban has also posted pictures of the now ex-Guantanamo detainees being greeted by supporters and family members in Qatar. As The Long War Journal has previously documented, all five were closely linked to al Qaeda prior to their detention and deemed "high" risks to the US, its interests, and its allies, according to leaked Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessments.

The first picture posted by the Taliban appears to show Mullah Norullah Noori, a senior Taliban military commander. According to a leaked JTF-GTMO file, Noori has been "wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims." He fought alongside al Qaeda in pre-9/11 Afghanistan.

Taliban-5-Bergdahl-Swap-1.jpg

The second unlabeled photo, seen below, seems to be of Abdul Haq Wasiq, a senior Taliban intelligence official. He arranged for al Qaeda to train the Taliban in "intelligence methods," according to a leaked JTF-GTMO file.

Taliban-5-Bergdahl-Swap-2.jpg

The third photo [below] shows Mullah Muhammad Fazl, the former Taliban deputy minister of defense. Fazl's face is obscured in the photo. Like Noori, according to the JTF-GTMO files, Fazl is "wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites." Fazl worked closely with al Qaeda leaders, including Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who is still detained at Guantanamo.

Taliban-5-Bergdahl-Swap-Mullah-Fazal.jpg

The fourth photo shows Mohammad Nabi Omari, a Taliban leader who served in multiple roles and coordinated attacks with al Qaeda and other affiliated groups in Afghanistan.

Taliban-5-Bergdahl-Swap-Nabi-Omeri.jpg

The fifth and final photo is of Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former Taliban governor of Herat province. Khairkhwa had multiple ties to al Qaeda prior to 9/11, according to the JTF-GTMO files. He also helped broker a deal between the Iranian regime and the Taliban, who were historically at odds with one another. As a result of the deal, the Iranians agreed to support the Taliban in its war against the US.

For more on the five Taliban leaders released from Guantanamo, see The Long War Journal's previous reports.

Taliban-5-Bergdahl-Swap-Khairkhawa.jpg



Advertisement:


READER COMMENTS: "Mullah Omar hails release of 5 top Taliban commanders as 'great victory'"

Posted by Gilbert Aitken at June 1, 2014 6:15 PM ET:

The "prisoner swap" whilst clearly motivated by sound humanitarian principle and grounded in the proper and right notion of never leaving a man or woman behind may well have the wholly undesirable effect of groups with the same or similar ideological leanings as the Taliban making the capture of coalition troops for the purpose of "exchange " a future political and practical imperative .
Gilbert Aitken
Barrister
Australia

Posted by Andromeda at June 1, 2014 9:20 PM ET:

No one happy though. Many people is questioning about the release. They said that Sgt Bergdahl is unworthy to trade with the 5 prisoners.
Who can blame him? I admitted that I little confused with the US Government policy. But, i think its worthy but not the happy ending.
Hoping better world without violence and war.

Posted by Andrew at June 2, 2014 6:13 AM ET:

Stomach churning.

Let's kill these 5 who should never have been released, kill Bergdahl's abductors, kill Mullah Omar (how is he still alive?!), kill Ayman Al-Zawahiri, then cut our losses and leave these god forsaken crap holes forever.
They're damnable places where generations of heat-stroke have created a culture of restless blood-lust; women are bludgeoned to death with stones for cheating, westerners get beheaded, cars blow up public markets and schools, and the newspapers read like Nazi propaganda rags from the 30's with all their hate-mongering "Jewish conspiracy" crap.

Posted by larry at June 2, 2014 6:14 AM ET:

I like the picture of the guy having his first drink of camel urine since his capture.

Posted by Craig Kaufman at June 2, 2014 8:25 AM ET:

This will undoubtably come back to bite us in the ass. If Bergdahl was a deserter, which seems to be the case, this exchange never should have happened, but then again, look at our illustrious leadership...."appeasement" shows weakness!!!!

Posted by Earl at June 2, 2014 8:53 AM ET:

5 generals/key leaders for a sgt! What will the going rAte be for a major or LTC? Shudder to think what a COL would bring. Bad deal. I guess he had to stop the VA scandal talk somehow.

Posted by Knighthawk at June 2, 2014 11:02 AM ET:

"Mullah Omar hails release of 5 top Taliban commanders as 'great victory'...
---
He should, because it is.


Posted by Col Michael Morgan at June 2, 2014 11:21 AM ET:

Mr. Aiken is correct in his statement and what ever happened to no negotiations with terrorist in this country. Now the Obama Administration has completely destroyed American Pride and what this country has stood for since breaking away from England. The bad part is that Americans have turned their head in all this by saying the next President will fix all these screw ups....wrong.

Posted by Jose Betancourt at June 2, 2014 11:34 AM ET:

As a retiree from military service, I am disgusted, ashamed an embarrassed by the release of the five terrorists. if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and other uniformed leaders of our armed forces had even a "smidgen" of courage and honor, they would, today, tender their resignations to the Commander in Chief in protest!

Our policy of not negotiating with terrorists and murderers in war time (or any time) was a powerful message of our national resolve to deal swiftly, and effectively with those who would threaten our existence and way of life. It is no more.

Posted by Bdillinger at June 2, 2014 3:21 PM ET:

The U.S. not only now happily negotiates with terrorists, it does so in such a disproportionate manner as to release FIVE high-level known terrorists into Taliban hands for the release of one questionable soldier and possible traitor. This is beyond shameful, it's actually scary - How is the U.S. not complicit with terror if it is freely delivering known terrorists back into freedom and action?

Posted by clr80 at June 2, 2014 3:51 PM ET:

Mr. Aitken, that's it in a nutshell. However, while we may agree, if one writes or gives voice to such an assessment in America, or more specifically, where partisans roam, there is no end to the negative labeling, low brow aspersions and vitriol heaped upon you. The amount of emotional histrionics in lieu of level-headed analysis is staggering, I assure you. I may just sample that with your objective observation and report back.

Posted by Mr. Wolf at June 2, 2014 4:39 PM ET:

Now the coyotes can have at them.
Just wait on the news reports of how many AQ leaders THEY gave intel on over the past 5 years.

Posted by Jake at June 2, 2014 6:47 PM ET:

The argument that this prisoner exchange will encourage more captures of US soldiers isn't very well thought out in my opinion. It seems to be based on the assumption that the Taliban and other jihadi groups aren't already highly motivated to capture US soldiers. It's quite clear that they already desire to do so. In fact, one could argue this exchange could influence any group who captures an American in the future to consider keeping them alive in the hopes of a prisoner swap as opposed to say....a beheading. How is that a bad thing?

I also think the real impact these 5 GITMO detainees will have in the prosecution of the war will be minimal. The Taliban have managed to run an effective insurgency without them for the past 13 years. The Taliban have also repeatedly shown depth in the bullpen when it comes to filling leadership roles throughout the organization. It is no doubt a morale boost for them, just like it would be for us if Bergdahl hadn't been a deserter...

I won't be surprised if the GITMO detainees rejoin the Taliban and once again be given leadership positions and contribute to the jihad there. But I don't think they'll be any more of a threat to American and Afghan lives than whatever Taliban official would be given the job in their place if they weren't around.

Posted by solidbangla at June 2, 2014 7:33 PM ET:

This prisoner swap deal will give a new dimension to political development with taleban but Molla Umar has not much to be happy about. this deal should be bringing peace in the region and stability in politics not bringing back talebans in power.

Posted by Jeff Edelman at June 2, 2014 7:55 PM ET:

I'll bet they're already making deals to kill Americans! Every day I think this regime has hit rock bottom but it demonstrates I'm wrong. Obominable!

Posted by Stephanie at June 2, 2014 8:06 PM ET:

Mixed feelings ...

When I was a DoD contractor in Kuwait, we fell into a legal snafu with the Kuwaitis (between the Kuwaitis and our stateside company - we as employees were caught in the middle) resulting in the Kuwaitis cancelling our legal status. We were trapped on the army base where we worked for months unable to leave without risking arrest, and several of our US citizen contractors did time in Kuwaiti prison / deportation cells because of their legal status. As this situation dragged on and on with no end in sight, it seemed that those in power did not want to intervene on our behalf (including taking us out of the country). For this reason, I am sympathetic to the idea of not leaving this guy behind, regardless of what he did.

But the big worry here is that the Taliban has just learned how to get their people out of Guantanamo and I am afraid this is going to happen again to more people!

Posted by Scott J at June 2, 2014 9:37 PM ET:

A better headline might have been, "After 13 years of trying and failing, taliban finally get a non-military victory."

As for Bergdahl, the investigation into his conduct should be concluded and the appropriate action taken under the UCMJ.

Posted by Amanda at June 2, 2014 10:31 PM ET:

And I'm sure Obama gave them a hefty amount of money for their time in Gitmo.... 3 meals a day, better medical attention than the U.S. Military who deal with their B.S. all day, receive. Oh yeah and did I mention free medical for prisoners?

Posted by Server at June 2, 2014 10:39 PM ET:

We always have and always will....
Negotiate with anyone.... When it serves a POLitiCAl purpose.
It is sad how gullible some of our population is.
Bringing hollywood to life... If a hiGH-Ranking US Diplo or higher got bagged...make NO MISTAKE ......
We would sell the Farm .... Then burn it... But they would still sell it.
I will never understand he sociopathic lying of the US Govt/Politician. The World is well aware of the behind the scenes/Lying!!!
The Truth... Will set US free!!

Posted by Redcatcher at June 2, 2014 11:20 PM ET:

PFC Bergdahl should be in confinement. Recommend interviewing any of his fellow troopers. This was a quick turn event motivated by the need to get the VA scandal off the front page. Our military 'leadership' should be ashamed. Generals, you've reached the bottom of the slippery slope of "If I resign they'd put some lacky in this position". You've become the lackey. (r/ 31 years, three wars, integrity intact)

Posted by David at June 3, 2014 7:38 AM ET:

I hope these members had GPS tracking chips implanted during some medical treatment while at Gitmo. Now, introduce them to the Drones.

Posted by Demetreus M at June 3, 2014 10:52 AM ET:

Future Reaper meat.